For over seven decades, since they started making biscuits in 1938, Parle Products enjoyed a smooth sailing in the Indian market. Their flagship brand, Parle G, holds 20% share of the estimated Rs.25,000-crore biscuit market by value. The yellow striped biscuit pack with the illustrative picture of a young girl is arguably among the most recognised brands in India. Alongside, their brands such as Krackjack, Monaco, 20-20 and Hide & Seek also continued to grow at a robust pace. A strong brand affinity, equity and legacy — Parle Products had it all going their way. Except one thing: perception.
In the past few years, consumer preference saw a sharp switch. With increasing disposable incomes and a young population, consumers were looking for premium offerings, and it seemed like Parle Products was falling short of serving the new and discerning consumer. “Parle (Products) was largely seen as a Parle G company. People didn’t realise that we have a broad range of premium offerings, such as Milano and Hide & Seek, as well as snacks, confectionery, rusk, cakes and chocolates, which consumers liked and consumed. It is just that they didn’t know that it comes from the company that makes Parle G,” says B Krishna Rao, 46, category head (snacks, confectionery), Parle Products, explaining the predicament they found themselves in.
We are seated at a large conference room in Parle Products’ head office in Mumbai. To make his point, Rao gestures towards the glass bowls placed before us on the table. These bowls were filled to the brim with products made at Parle — from the humble Parle G and the premium Hide & Seek to the evergreen Kismi and the new-age Londonderry. And, much like the sultry summer weather, Rao adds that the competitive landscape too has heated up. Peers such as Britannia and ITC had taken up a premium positioning with their offerings while Parle Products was still largely perceived to be a ‘mass’ brand.